Core Activation: The Transverse Abdominis
First off, what is the transverse abdominis (TVA) muscle? TVA is the deepest layer of all the core muscles and is located beneath your rectus abdominis (the six-pack stomach muscle). The muscle runs horizontally across the abdomen and is activated every time you move.
Part of obtaining good core strength is learning how to contract each of your core muscles. Different visualization techniques are used
How to find it on your body?
Place your hands on the bony parts at the front of your hips. These are known as your anterior superior iliac spines (ASIS). Move your hands inwards and an inch towards your belly button. Then adjust downwards and inch towards your toes. You should now be directly over the transversus abdominis muscle. When you contract your core correctly you should feel a gentle tightening under your fingers when they are in position. If you feel a bulge you are contracting too much. The correct level of activity in core muscles should be 30% of their maximum so that the muscles have enough energy to contract continuously.
Keep your hands in this position and try these 3 methods for strengthening your TVA muscle.
- Lay with your back on the floor and your knees pointed upwards. Imagine a belt with 10 notches tied around your abdomen. Take a deep breath in and exhale while visualizing that the belt is being fastened up to the last notch. As you feel your core contract relax and visualize leaving the belt off to the third notch.
- In the same position take a deep breath in. On exhalation try to lower your belly button downwards into the floor. Hold and then ease the contraction to 30% of its max.
- Staying in the same position take a deep breath. When you exhale draw up from the pelvis floor. Imagine that you’re trying to stop yourself from using the bathroom.
Choose one of these techniques and practice it until you can do it easily. It may take practicing each method a few times before you decide which one works best for you!
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations.
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